In the Company of Friends: Being Part of a Greyhound Syndicate
There are over 15,000 racing greyhound owners in Great Britain. Some own as individuals, couples and families whilst others bring friends and acquaintances together to form syndicates. Greyhound Owner Billy Boyle gives us an insight into what it is like to be part of a syndicate.
“Greyhound racing is in my genes. My grandfather and father were both owners and my great-grandfather was an owner, trainer and breeder and so it felt only natural to become a greyhound owner myself. I’ve owned racing greyhounds for almost 25 years. I love watching my greyhounds race and seeing them do what they do best.
This joy is only better when it is shared and so two years ago I brought a group of friends together to set up The Bruiser Boyz. There are six members in our syndicate – Alan Mills, Greg Hatcher, Phil Howe, Brian Donnerley, Simon Jacobs and myself. I’ve known Alan all my life, Greg for over fifteen years and the others I’ve known for a good few from both inside and outside the greyhound world.
Together we own twelve race dogs, six saplings and two brood bitches. Two of our racers – Bruisers Bullet and Bombers Bullet – have been particularly successful and have both reached the final of the world’s greatest race, the Greyhound Derby. Bombers Bullet was also recently named Stayer of the Year 2018 at the recent GBGB Greyhound of the Year Awards. Their success has made us all immensely proud and memories from the Awards and Derby are priceless and will live with us forever.
The fact that we are all good friends and get on so well is central to our success. Like any great relationship, it’s all about good communication. Instead of simply sitting down and voting on things, we discuss everything to do with our greyhounds from race planning and potential targets and any welfare or training initiatives. All communications go through our trainer Mark Wallis and, whilst he always has the final say, we do listen to each other’s opinions and discuss potential ideas to ensure we are all involved in the lives of our greyhounds.
Another hugely important aspect of our syndicate is having such an excellent relationship with Mark. Our dogs are elite athletes and this is reflected in the gold-standard treatment they receive in his kennels. Between us, Mark and the kennel staff all of our dogs are regularly checked over and they are all prepared fully for every trial as well as every race. They also see an experienced sports message therapist who ensures they are in top-condition.
Mark and the kennel staff send us daily pictures and video updates so we can see how the greyhounds are doing. You can tell for yourself when you see our dogs just what fantastic condition they are all in; their coats are gleaming and they are happy and this, above all else, is the most important thing for all of us – we want our dogs to enjoy every moment of their careers.
We all try to visit the kennels as much as possible to spend time with the dogs. A bonus of joint ownership is that, because there are more of us, our dogs receive lots of visits. I’ll often make the two and a half hour drive on a Sunday to take them out for a long walk, bring them some treats and make a fuss of them. We all lead busy lives but making time to see our greyhounds is hugely important to each of us and it’s hardly ever a chore as we adore them all.
The greatest pleasure as an owner is watching our greyhounds run in real time and I try never to miss a race or a trial. Watching them up close they are majestic, powerful animals but they run with such a sense of grace. This joy and pride that you feel is only amplified by being able to share it with friends.
We are all involved in greyhound racing for the love of the sport and the love of our dogs. None of us is in it to make our fortune; indeed, every penny we have won has been reinvested back into the dogs. For us, it is all about the enjoyment and pleasure of owning one of these fantastic athletes and being there for them at every turn.
Before taking my first steps into greyhound ownership, the first question I had to ask myself was, have I considered the long term future of this greyhound? Greyhound ownership is both a big financial and emotional commitment and it is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. I’m confident that we do the best for all greyhounds in our ownership. As an owner, the experience really is spectacular; the sense of pride and enjoyment is like no other and I would encourage everyone to be involved in some sort of capacity. These wonderful greyhounds are such a loyal breed, all they want to do is please and the rewards of ownership are very gratifying.”